BAC G1-G2 2010
The Open Door Policy
The American Company IBM believes in creating good working conditions for its employees and in building up employee-manager relationships. One of its key policies is its Open Door Program. This program was started by IBM's founder and first chairman T.J. Watson. He had close contacts with staff working in the plant and field offices. Therefore, staff often brought their problems to him.
Using telephone broadcasts, Watson told his staff that they should go first to their plant or branch manager if they felt they were being unfairly treated. But if they were still not satisfied, they should come to him. Many of his staff took advantage of his offer. Some would take a day off work, leaving the plant in Endicott to go to see Watson in his office in New York City. He would give them a sympathetic hearing, often deciding in favor of the employee who had complained. By the time he left the company, Watson had become a trusted friend to thousands of IBM employees.
Today the Open Door Policy is still practiced by IBM. The program works like this: if employees think they have been unfairly treated by the immediate manager, they can appeal to a higher level of management to solve the problem. In fact, they can go to higher and higher levels of management if they wish.
Alternatively, they can take their case directly to an executive director. In practice, some cases are taken to senior management and executive management levels; others are solved by the immediate manager's manager. Staff may raise any case they wish. Generally, appeals are about promotions, relations with immediate managers, and assessments of staff performance.
In recent years, there have been 20-25 Open Door appeals dealt with by executive management annually. The employee's appeal has been favorably received in a quarter of those cases.